Cairo Prince was a dominant winner of the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. (Photo by Bob Coglianese/Gulfstream Park)
Cairo Prince certainly looked the part of a legitimate Kentucky Derby hopeful on Saturday in a dominant victory in the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes.
After a heartbreaking defeat in the Remsen Stakes when Honor Code re-rallied to edge him by a nose at the finish line, Cairo Prince put away the competition in the Holy Bull stretch for a decisive win under Luis Saez.
The Pioneerof the Nile colt was hung wide entering the first turn but settled into a nice rhythm under Saez in fifth early. Cairo Prince moved up to fourth while still on the outside on the backstretch and when Saez called upon him approaching the stretch, the response was immediate.
Cairo Prince shifted gears and took aim on leader Almost Famous. Within a matter of just a few, powerful strides Cairo Prince had left Almost Famous in the rearview mirror and opened up a commanding lead.
“When we got to the three-eighths pole, I knew I could win the race so when we came into the stretch I asked him and he responded. He just took off,” Saez said. “I had so much horse. He’s a nice horse.”
Cairo Prince coasted to a 5 3/4-length romp and completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.16 for his third win in four starts. Only a nostril away from being unbeaten, Cairo Prince won the Grade 2 Nashua Stakes as a 2-year-old and picked up his second stakes win in the Holy Bull.
With the Holy Bull victory, Cairo Prince moved into a three-way tie for first on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 14 points. The Road to the Kentucky Derby points system determines which 3-year-olds earn a starting spot for the first jewel of the Triple Crown. Cairo Prince is tied with the aforementioned Honor Code and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Havana.
NEW DERBY FRONT-RUNNER?
Photo by Eclipse Sportswire
Cairo Prince is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin and owned by the partnership of Namcook Stables, Paul Braverman, Harvey Clarke and Craig W. Robertson III. Cairo Prince was the 2.10-to-1 favorite in the 11-horse field for the Holy Bull.
“It’s hard not to get excited when you have these kind [of horses],” McLaughlin said. “Obviously, we’re holding a strong hand with this colt. We feel very confident moving forward. You just hope we keep going forward because things happen to horses all the time. We just want to keep him the same happy and healthy horse and keep going.”
Cairo Prince is from the first crop of runners by 2009 Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile, a Grade 1 winner at two and three. Saturday’s race honored 1994 Horse of the Year Holy Bull, so it was especially fitting that Cairo Prince was produced by a stakes-winning daughter of Holy Bull named Holy Bubbette. From four starters, Holy Bubbette has also produced Grade 1-placed Nonna Mia and stakes-placed Holdin Bullets.
McLaughlin said the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 22 and the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 29 are possible future targets for Cairo Prince.
“We’ll see how it goes,” McLaughlin said. “I hope he stays as good as he is today. He’ll have one or two more [races before the Kentucky Derby].”
Conquest Titan closed from last to finish second in the Holy Bull. The dark bay or brown colt by 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone entered off an impressive last-to-first win at Churchill Downs on Nov. 30.
Earlier on the card at Gulfstream, 3-year-old Top Billing delivered a visually impressive victory in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and owners William S. Farish and E. J. Hudson Jr. McGaughey won the Kentucky Derby in 2013 with Orb.
By two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, Top Billing rallied from last to first to win by 2 ¾ lengths.
For an Equibase chart of the Holy Bull Stakes, click here.
CAIRO PRINCE LEAVES THE OPPOSITION IN HIS WAKE
Photo by Leslie Martin/Gulfstream Park